Tribune-Star staff report
TERRE HAUTE —
A veteran detective with the Terre Haute Police Department has been honored by a service organization as Officer of the Year for 2013.
Julia Dierdorf accepted the award from the Exchange Club of Terre Haute at a luncheon on Tuesday where she was honored for her leadership in the department and her success in solving property crimes committed in the city.
Dierdorf — who attended the luncheon expecting to give a brief talk on crime prevention but ended up being the guest of honor — said the recognition was humbling, and she is thankful that the club recognizes the efforts of local law enforcement.
She said that the magnitude of the property crimes problem — burglaries, thefts and stolen property — keeps her job interesting.
“We deal with an enormous caseload. Just to be able to make a dent in that and to stay on top of it,” she said, “we like to make an impact on such a large problem.”
She said she finds that many of the burglary and theft cases are linked by the people participating in the crimes.
“It’s difficult to piece it all together, but it makes it that much more rewarding when you can put it all together,” she said, noting that just a few arrests will sometimes resolve several open criminal cases.
Police Chief John Plasse said that during the past five years, the number of property crimes has decreased in the city, and that’s a direct result of the efforts of Dierdorf and the property crimes unit. He also credited the city’s ordinance requiring online reporting of resold items and scrap metal as being instrumental in helping officers solve crimes.
“She is a leader in her division,” Plasse said. “During the last year, she consistently led her peers in assignments as well as arrests, which include numerous burglaries, thefts and other charges.
“Previously, she was the lead detective in two different burglary investigations.,” he continued. “The suspects in these cases were responsible for burglarizing and terrorizing many residents in Terre Haute in which thousands of dollars in person[al] property were lost.”
Dierdorf was responsible for leading the charge in investigating both cases, he said, and she learned the identities of all suspects involved, and she was able to retrieve a large amount of the property stolen in the burglaries.
She was hired in the uniform patrol division in December 1996. She was assigned as a juvenile detective in June 2007 and was assigned as a property crimes detective in December 2009.
The Exchange Club presents its award annually to raise the public’s respect and appreciation for sacrifices that law enforcement officers make in the line of duty. The club meets for lunch each Tuesday at the Holiday Inn of Terre Haute.